Environment Forum

Tiger among fluffy toys shows extreme smuggling tricks

August 27, 2010

tigerThe drugged tiger cub (left) hidden among cuddly toys in a bag at Bangkok airport  ranks as one of the most bizarre smuggling tricks.

Imagine the shock of X-raying the bag — as airport workers checking luggage did — and finding a live tiger among the fluffy tiger toys. Maybe it moved, or they spotted the outline of its skeleton among the other toys?

For a story about the two-month-old cub (photo courtesy of wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic) click here. A 31-year-old Thai woman was about to board a flight to Iran when they found the cub in her oversized bag.

It highlights how smugglers find extreme ways of packing away live creatures.

In July, officers at Mexico City’s airport arrested a man trying to smuggle 18 small monkeys from Lima wrapped inside his socks.

Women smugglers have several times been caught with endangered bird eggs hidden in their bras — an aid to incubation and far easier to hide on an international flight than a flapping, squawking parrot.

But Traffic says it’s no joke: smuggling is pushing species of some animals and plants towards extinction. And while it’s hard to pin down the scale of wildlife smuggling, some estimates are between $10 and $20 billion a year, it says.

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